Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Report Back: Making Evaluation Our Own

A special stream was held on making Evaluation our own at the AfrEA conference. After the conference a small committee of African volunteers worked to capture some of the key points of the discussion. Thanks to Mine Pabari from Kenya for forwarding a copy!

What do you think of this?

Making Evaluation Our Own: Strengthening the Foundations for Africa-Rooted and Africa Led M&E

Overview & Recommendations to AfrEA

Niamey, 18th January, 2007

Discussion Overview

On 18 January 2007 a special stream was held to discuss the topic

Making Evaluation our own: Strengthening the Foundations for Africa-Rooted and Africa-Led M&E. It was designed to bring African and other international experiences in evaluation and in development evaluation to help stimulate debate on how M&E , which has generally been imposed from outside, can become Africa led and owned.

The introductory session aimed to set the scene for the discussion by considering i) What the African evaluation challenges are (Zenda Ofir) ii) The Trends Shaping M&E in the Developing World (Robert Piccioto) iii) The African Mosaic and Global Interactions: The Multiple Roles of and Approaches to Evaluation (Michael Patton & Donna Mertens). The last presentations explained, among others, the theoretical underpinnings of evaluation as it is practiced in the world today.

The next session briefly touched on some of the current evaluation methodologies used internationally in order to highlight the variety of methods that exist. It also stimulated debate over the controversial initiative on impact evaluation launched by the Center for Global Development in Washington. The discussion then moved to consider some of the international approaches that are currently useful or likely to become prominent in finding evidence about development in Africa (Jim Rugh, Bill Savedoff, Rob van den Berg, Fred Carden, Nancy MacPherson & Ross Conner)

The final session aimed to consider some possibilities for developing an evaluation culture rooted in Africa. (Bagele Chilisa). In this session some examples of how the African culture leans itself towards evaluation was given and also some examples that demonstrated that the currently used evaluation methodologies could be enriched if it considered an African world view.

Key issues emerging from the presentations and discussion formed the basis for the motions presented below:

  • Currently much of the evaluation practice in Africa is based on external values and contexts, is donor driven and the accountability mechanisms tend to be directed towards recipients of aid rather than both recipients and the providers of aim
  • For evaluation to have a greater contribution to development in Africa it needs to address challenges including those related to country ownership; the macro-micro disconnect; attribution; ethics and values; and power-relations.
  • A variety of methods and approaches are available and valuable to contributing to frame our questions and methods of collecting evidence. However, we first need to reexamine our own preconceived assumptions; underpinning values, paradigms (e.g. transformative v/s pragmatic); what is acknowledged as being evidence; and by whom before we can select any particular methodology/approach.

The lively discussion that ensued led towards the appointment of a small group of African evaluators to note down suggested actions that AfrEA could spearhead in order to fill the gap related to Africa-Rooted and Africa-Led M&E.

The stream acknowledges and extends its gratitude to the presenters for contributing their time to share their experiences and wealth of knowledge. Also, many thanks to NORAD for its contribution to the stream; and the generous offer to support an evaluation that may be used as a test case for an African-rooted approach – an important opportunity to contribute to evaluation in Africa.

In particular, the stream also extends much gratitude to Zenda Ofir and Dr. Sully Gariba for their enormous effort and dedication to ensure that AfrEA had the opportunity to discuss this important topic with the support of highly skilled and knowledgeable evaluation professionals.


In order for evaluation to contribute more meaningfully to development in Africa, there is a need to re-examine the paradigms that guide evaluation practice on the continent. Africa rooted and Africa led M&E requires ensuring that African values and ways of constructing knowledge are considered as valid. This, in turn, implies that:

§ African evaluation standards and practices should be based on African values & world views

§ The existing body of knowledge on African values & worldviews should be central to guiding and shaping evaluation in Africa

§ There is a need to foster and develop the intellectual leadership and capacity within Africa and ensure that it plays a greater role in guiding and developing evaluation theories and practices.

We therefore recommend the following for consideration by AfrEA:

o AfrEA guides and supports the development of African guidelines to operationalize the African evaluation standards and; in doing so, ensure that both the standards and operational guidelines are based on the existing body of knowledge on African values & worldviews

o AfrEA works with its networks to support and develop institutions, such as Universities, to enable them to establish evaluation as a profession and meta discipline within Africa

o AfrEA identifies mechanisms in which African evaluation practitioners can be mentored and supported by experienced African evaluation professionals

o AfrEA engages with funding agencies to explore opportunities for developing and adopting evaluation methodologies and practices that are based on African values and worldviews and advocate for their inclusion in future evaluations

o AfrEA encourages and supports knowledge generated from evaluation practice within Africa to be published and profiled in scholarly publications. This may include;

§ Supporting the inclusion of peer reviewed publications on African evaluation in international journals on evaluation (for example, the publication of a special issue on African evaluation)

§ The development of scholarly publications specifically related to evaluation theories and practices in Africa (e.g. a journal of the AfrEA)


§ Benita van Wyk – South Africa

§ Bagele Chlisa – Botswana

§ Abigail Abandoh-Sam – Ghana

§ Albert Eneas Gakusi – AfDB

§ Ngegne Mbao – Senegal

§ Mine Pabari - Kenya

No comments: